Let’s dispense with the positives first.
That was an assured defensive performance—the first in a long while. Sure there were the requisite giveaways and Kyle Walker adventure—leading to Cleverley’s strong thrust (his last action for months??)—but the few real chances Everton gained came largely from their own making. Interesting that no opposition has scored vs Spurs in the first 75 minutes of any of our four games. Danny Rose’s entrance had an immediate impact in both ends; Kyle played a strong game, as did Vertonghen and Dier holding (the latter was a defensive stalwart from beginning to end); the fact that Toby Alderweireld’s presence was rarely noticed is a good thing—no Kaboulian or Fazian play there.
Chances were created. Bentaleb struggled to get into the game, but was more assured by the second half. Mason had several good runs and was always fighting to win back possession. In the absence of Eriksen or either of the new signings, Chadli is our most dynamic player and was again today, Dembele acquitted himself well before turning the ankle (let’s hope it’s not more serious than that but reinforcements are coming); and Kane was Kane but for the thing that matters most. After a sluggish start, Spurs were the better side for nearly all of the final three-quarters of this game, but……
Goals matter. Sure, this will probably be the weakest offensive XI we will field for weeks if not months to come—Eriksen’s return plus the additions of N’Jie and Son must improve the dynamism. And Everton are no slouches nor is their goalkeeper—on at least four occasions a well-placed Toffee leg was all that lay between our player and the opening goal, but that’s football. The distressing thing was Kane’s fatal delay on the through ball from Mason; Chadli and Mason’s balls yards over a largely open goal; Dier’s inability to use space to create even more pressure or release one of the forwards; Walker or Rose’s hesitation when the wing beckoned, perhaps realizing that the right target might not be present.
It is painfully obvious that good fortune has deserted our ‘Arry—one hopes that Solda…. I mean Kane won’t suffer a loss of confidence that will make the missed chances a self-prophecy. He needs to be more disciplined about jumping offside, he needs to be a little more conscious of his teammates in the final third, but most of all he needs a damn goal—to get this season going. One would hope that the pace and magic that should be supplied by the missing links today will help a lot.
It is too bad really that Spurs have achieved the minimum in terms of the table from four games that all had their positive moments since the big boys, outside of City, look surprisingly vulnerable. Liverpool have scored only twice; Chelsea has conceded three months worth of goals from last season; Arsenal and United appear to be sleepwalking. And the surprises produced by the likes of Palace, Leicester and the Hammers suggest that even Top Six or Seven is not guarantee for Spurs this year. There are better times ahead—let’s hope that they come during that run of home fixtures which includes Palace and City and the Derby in late September.
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